Author: Rebecca Serle
Publisher: Simon Pulse
Release date: May 1st 2012
Genre: Contemporary YA; romance
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"What's in a name, Shakespeare? I'll tell you: everything." Rosaline knows that she and Rob are destined to be together. Rose has been waiting for years for Rob to kiss her--and when he finally does, it's perfect. But then Juliet moves back to town. Juliet, who used to be Rose's best friend. Juliet, who now inexplicably hates her. Juliet, who is gorgeous, vindictive, and a little bit crazy...and who has set her sights on Rob. He doesn't even stand a chance. Rose is devastated over losing Rob to Juliet. This is not how the story was supposed to go. And when rumors start swirling about Juliet's instability, her neediness, and her threats of suicide, Rose starts to fear not only for Rob's heart, but also for his life. Because Shakespeare may have gotten the story wrong, but we all still know how it ends.My rating: 4 out of 5 stars
I'm not usually a fan of retellings, to be honest, mostly because I haven't read that many classics, and it feels wrong to read a retelling if you know nothing about the original. But Romeo & Juliet is a play everyone knows, so that wasn't a problem. And I love the whole idea of telling the story from Rosaline's perspective, since she's basically been completely forgotten.
I loved the characters. Rose is a good MC - I loved reading from her point-of-view, and I really felt for her. Then there's Rosaline's best friends, Charlie and Olivia, who are awesome - all their little quirks are fun to read about, and I just loved the strong bond between these three. I like that we get to read from the popular girls' POV, without them seeming like total bitches. Len is a good character, too - he's adorable!
The writing is great - it's beautiful and vivid and reads quickly. It's still a little basic in parts, but I really enjoyed Rebecca Serle's style.
What I liked best about When You Were Mine is how it evoked so many emotions in me. Even though of course I knew what was going to happen, I couldn't help but root for Rob and Rose. I loved these two together, and I kept hoping that, against all odds, they could somehow end up together. (Even if that would have ruined the story.) It physically hurt to read about Rob and Juliet together, that's how much I felt Rose's pain. When You Were Mine made me happy, wistful, angry - it made me feel every emotion, basically. And what more can you ask of a book?
I really enjoyed all the little references to Romeo & Juliet - those were fun to find, for a geek like me. I just loved seeing how everything was adapted for modern times, even if some things don't work quite as well with this set-up as they do in the original.
Towards the end, the book went downhill for me. I can't really talk about this because of spoilers, but what happens right before Rob and Juliet die, and everything that happens afterwards... I didn't like it. If it had been any regular book, I don't think I would have minded, but it doesn't work with the original, in my opinion, and that took from my enjoyment of the novel.
But even though When You Were Mine isn't perfect, I really, really liked it. Any book that can evoke so many emotions in me has to be good. If you'd like to read an original take on Romeo & Juliet, or even if you just want a nice coming-of-age story and some romance, you should give When You Were Mine a try.
What do you think of retellings?